Costco plans in the works
LAKE STEVENS — People packed the house to say their piece on a development plan for a Costco, proposed near 20th Street on Highway 9.
Plans for the Costco include a 160,000 square foot building on a 37-acre site located at South Lake Stevens Road, spanning the addresses of 2326 and 2404 S. Lake Stevens Rd. The site also spills into 9208 and 9126 addresses of 21st Street SE. Plans include 809 parking stalls, and would require construction of two new roads and realigning Lake Stevens Road. It would also require construction of a roundabout to join 24th Street SE to Highway 9.
A public hearing was held two days before Thanksgiving at the Lake Stevens School District building where the City Council meets regularly.
Other media reported said the city was asked by some citizens to reschedule the public hearing to accommodate holiday plans, and allow more people to attend. By the time the gavel struck to kick off official city business, the group had doubled what the seating would accommodate. Some stood in the entryway, and some sat cross-legged on the floor, blocking the front row of chairs, as the council heard public testimony that expressed both concerns and support for the big-box and its location. Testimony closed after 9 p.m. and was followed by a vote to continue the public comment period in December.
“Line up and we’re here to listen,” said Gary Petershagen, Mayor Pro Tem who sat in for Mayor John Spencer, after leading a moment of silence for the death of Spencer’s wife.
Residents from the area spoke one after another, with city officials working on sound equipment as they spoke. To be heard, some turned toward the audience and spoke loudly.
Opponents cited traffic impact concerns and the loss of Lake Stevens’ small town feel, as well as impact to the natural environment. Some spoke of light-pollution and noise that the large retailer would bring. Others spoke out about the competition with smaller grocery stores.
Mary Berg told the council, “I would like to see the small town life in Lake Stevens maintained. If I wanted to live in Lynnwood, I’d move to Lynnwood.”
She said Highway 9 was not ready to accommodate more traffic, and said it should be a four-lane highway. Berg said, “I want to see more green spaces.”
David Clay of Snohomish spoke in opposition to the store’s location, a theme that came up for other speakers as well. Clay was concerned about increased traffic on 45th Place SE that is already problematic.
“I can’t get out on the road from where I live,” Clay said.
Dave Turner of Turners Grocery spoke in opposition, and mentioned an online petition that had gathered more than 376 signatures.
He said he had an additional hardcopy petition with 200 signatures expressing opposition to a Costco.
Supporters spoke of convenient shopping and tax revenue, as well as increased employment opportunities. Mentioned were safety issues when traveling across U.S. 2 to get to other Costco locations.
Joyce Coply of Lake Stevens spoke in favor, saying she shops at the Smokey Point Costco, and sees that municipality thriving. A heckler from the back of the room said, “it’s a bad location” and she turned toward him, offering more of her statement, wrapping up by stating, “you stole my thunder. I was going to talk about jobs.”
If built, Brian Whelan, a site selection executive for Costco, said Costco would add 300 jobs to the City of Lake Stevens.
He said Costco’s employment profile includes a split of full- and part-time employees, and all employees are eligible for workplace benefits. Snohomish County grew by 96,000 people between 2010 and 2018, and more growth is anticipated, he said, with a population hike of 55,000 anticipated by 2023.
Anna Dinsmoor of Lake Stevens is a mother of six. She spoke to concerns of keeping the town’s small town feel, but “being able to shop where you live is appealing to me. … Sometimes it seems the salmon and the wildlife are more valuable than the people who live here.”
Dan Myers of Lake Stevens is a father of three, under the age of 7. He seconded that idea of close-by shopping for families with kids.
He said a day of Costco shopping is currently a long day out of town that requires a planned lunch-outing or second stop, due to his routine of shopping with young children.
“We’re traffic out (and) we’re traffic in that would have stayed in town,” Myers said.
Whelan lauded the city for their work, then presented data collected by Costco and city officials.
The Snohomish River Valley area, which includes the City of Lake Stevens, parts of Snohomish and the unincorporated areas near those cities, has 40,000 Costco members. He said members would transfer their business to the new site, easing traffic congestion for routes that take travelers out of town.
Members shop at the Marysville, Everett and Woodinville locations, he said, adding traffic to area highways.
“This is not something that would come before you without a lot of research,” Whelan said.
For additional project information, contact the city’s Department of Community Development at 425-622-9430.
More information on the Costco development plan and other stages of planning for the proposed project are listed on the city of Lake Stevens website.
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